The NFL playoffs are underway and the wild card round is officially in the books. It seems like this season has flown by, but we only have one more week of exciting daily fantasy football action. It should be a good one, however, with a solid slate of divisional round games. Let's take a look back at what transpired during the four-game wild card slate.
Here is the optimal lineup for FanDuel games from the first round of the playoffs:
Obviously, you are going to see some weird things on a four game slate, so let's get that out of the way. Steelers pass-catchers Antonio Brown and Heath Miller both made the optimal squad, along with the opposing defense that they faced. This is somewhat of an anomaly, but it makes sense if you think about how the Ravens/Steelers tilt played out. The Steelers fell behind and were never able to establish the run game without Le'Veon Bell. The unable-to-run part was predictable, but the game flow was not necessarily predictable. This forced the Steelers to the air, and it forced them to take some chances. The passing game was able to rack up some yards, but the Ravens limited the damage and got several sacks and two key turnovers late. When all was said and done, the Brown/Miller/Ravens Defense combination in GPPs would have worked like a charm.
Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-week $2 Million Fantasy Football league for the Divisional Round Weekend's games. It's only $25 to join and first prize is $200,000. Starts Saturday, January 10th at 4:35pm ET. Here's the link.
With that out of the way, let's get to the things that were a little more predictable. Andrew Luck was the safest play of the weekend at quarterback, and he rewarded his owners handsomely with a fine performance against the Bengals. His mistake-free game was one of the most impressive performances of the weekend, but he went a little bit under-owned because of the high price tag. However, it would have been wise to take him, because there were plenty of value plays to be had. In fact, the rest of the skill position players on the optimal lineup were all priced under $7,000 on FanDuel.
This group of remaining players consisted of Jonathan Stewart, Reggie Bush, Golden Tate, and Terrance Williams. Stewart continued his late-season surge for the Panthers, and the game flow worked out in his favor with the Panthers dominating time of possession against a hapless Arizona team. Dan Herron was extremely impressive operating as the feature back for the Colts, scoring a touchdown in the first quarter and catching a heavy complement of passes out of the backfield. He did fumble twice, so this is something to monitor heading into the divisional round. As for Tate and Williams, each had one of their better games of the season on Sunday afternoon. Williams caught a long touchdown at the end of the first half and also hauled in the game-winner late. After not doing much for the better part of the year and losing snaps to Cole Beasley, this came as somewhat of a surprise. Tate was the beneficiary of the Cowboys focusing coverage on Calvin Johnson, and he had a nice game despite not doing much in the second half. Adam Vinatieri won the nod as the week's highest scoring kicker with a solid 16 fantasy points.
STLCardinals84: Divisional Round Recap
If I have to be totally honest here, I don't play a lot of action during the playoff slates. The appeal of a four-game slate doesn't really hit me, as most players are highly owned and it generally comes down to picking the right value guy. Terrence Williams comes to mind as “that guy” this week. Going off the board can often pay dividends in these types of slates. However, I couldn't go without having some stake in the action, and I needed something to write about here, so I fired off a few entries into the Saturday Million on FanDuel. Here's a look one of my four squads.
Knowing that Arizona struggled all year against running quarterbacks, and knowing that a lot of gamers would be on Ben Roethlisberger, I differentiated my entry by going with the QB/TE stack of Cam Newton and Greg Olsen. The weather became a bigger factor than I expected, and this game was generally gut-wrenching to watch at times. Cam managed to scrape out 16+ fantasy points, but Olsen was disappointing in a very good matchup against a Cardinals Defense that gets routinely shredded by tight ends. The Panthers Defense played a great game here, allowing just 78 total yards (total yards!) for the game. However, a pair of turnovers gave the Cardinals short fields, so they were able to convert a pair of touchdowns, thereby lowering the score of the Carolina defense.
My only exposure to the Ravens/Steelers game was via Antonio Brown, and he was deservedly one of the highest-owned players of the weekend in a matchup against Baltimore's depleted secondary. He did make the optimal lineup and performed well, but a would-be touchdown got wiped off the board via replay review which showed Brown down at the 1-yard line. That spoiled what could have been an even bigger performance.
Moving to the Sunday early game, I had significant exposure here, taking the starting running backs on each side along with Mohamed Sanu as my third receiver. I felt confident with both backs, but Sanu was one of the last guys I fit in my roster. I was torn between the increase in targets he would get with A.J. Green out versus the tough matchup and Andy Dalton's career struggles in the postseason. I should have listened to that instinct as Sanu was my worst performer of the week. Both running backs did fine here, especially Herron with his 10 receptions. They both found the end zone in the first quarter, but it was relatively slow going after that.
Going into the final game, I knew I needed a relatively big performance from Golden Tate to stay above the cash line, and a few field goals from Dan Bailey wouldn't hurt. Tate had a monster first half with Dallas focusing on Calvin Johnson, which was my goal when I put Tate on my roster – along with his friendly price tag. Though he slowed in the second half, it was enough to keep this team afloat. All in all, I put four entries into this thing for $100. I ended up getting minimum cashes on two of them for a total payback of $100. Therefore, the entertainment value made it worthwhile. I will likely use the same process for the divisional round of games next week, and I will bring you the final recap article of the year!